Jun 13, 2010

A Prayer for Church Leaders

May your priests be clothed in godliness;
     may your loyal servants sing for joy.

Psalm 132 focuses on David and his concern for God’s “house” in Jerusalem, the temple that David’s son Solomon would build. In this context, the psalmist prays for the priests who served in the temple: “May your priests be clothed in godliness; may your loyal servants sing for joy” (132:9). The word translated here as “godliness” is tzedeq, which is the basic Hebrew word for “righteousness.” Thus the verse could be translated more literally, “Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your godly ones sing for joy.”

How much do we need to pray like this today! The church continues to experience the devastation that follows when Christian leaders fail to put on righteousness. Sexual immorality, financial dishonesty, and hunger for power have toppled many leaders, bringing dishonor upon the church and weakening her ministry in the world. To be sure, our leaders need to discipline their lives and build in avenues for accountability so that they do not fall prey to temptations that lure them. But church leaders will not be clothed in righteousness apart from the grace of God. And for this reason, we must continually pray for them, that God will guide them, bless them, and protect them.

As I write this, I think of a dear friend at Irvine Presbyterian Church. Sam is now with the Lord, but he was a faithful church member for most of my sixteen years as senior pastor of the church. During that period of time, Sam told me that he prayed for me about 500 times. Almost every Sunday after one of my sermons, he’d come up and say something like, “Great word, Mark. I pray for you all the time.” I can’t emphasize how much that meant to me. I knew I needed lots of prayer, and I knew that Sam was praying. What a great encouragement!

Though we don’t have priests serving God in a literal temple, may Psalm 132:9 remind us to pray for our Christian leaders, for pastors and priests, for ministers and elders, for deacons and missionaries, for managers and CEOs, for teachers and principals, for supervisors and vice presidents, and for all who serve God as leaders in his church or in any institution. And then, if I might add an extra word of advice, I’d urge you to follow Sam’s example by letting your leaders know your are praying for them.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you pray for the leaders of your church or your workplace? What might help you to pray for them more regularly? Is there someone in particular for whom you should be praying these days? Is there someone whom you should tell of your prayers?

PRAYER: Yes, Lord, may those who serve as leaders be clothed in righteousness. May they honor you in everything they do, both in their official roles and in their personal lives. Where they are tempted to sin, give them strength to resist. Help them to build into their lives contexts for support and accountability that will help them when they are weak.

Today, Lord, I pray specifically for those in official positions of leadership in the church. I think of leaders in my own church . . . . [Pray for your pastors, elders, staff, etc.]

In praying for leaders, Lord, I am also reminded that you have called all of us into your service. Even if we do not have official responsibilities, we are all your servants, we are all called into your ministry. So, as I pray for leaders, I also pray for all of your people, including me. May we be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, living out our faith in the world with integrity and humility.

I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.

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